Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Evil Wine Carnival @ the VaC (9/29/13)

Since this is the last blog post that I have in the queue right now, I thought that this would be a good time to make a brief announcement.  As readers have undoubtedly noticed, there's been a steep decline in write-ups for HCTD.  The reason--or the main reason, rather--is simple: I've been pitching quite a few stories/reviews to the Boise Weekly, and the Weekly keeps saying yes (and tossing me more assignments on top of them).  These assignments must take priority because they require more work, they have tighter deadlines and, most important of all, they pay (well, the ones that show up in the paper do, anyway).

Now, does this mean that this blog is coming to an end?  No, but there'll be fewer posts for (knock on wood) the foreseeable future.  Also, in addition to the Weekly, three other factors are competing for my attention right now.  The first is my part-time gig at the Record Exchange.  The second is my role as contributor/copyeditor for The Exposition, a Boise-based music website.  Jenny Bowler, whose fine photographs appeared in my Treefort 2013 posts, has taken up its reins.  There's some interesting stuff in the works, so find it on Facebook and stay tuned.

The third is... Well, she's about 5'9" (correction: she's actually 5'7") with brown-blond hair, blue-green eyes, a smile like the springtime sun and a curve in her back that drives me to distraction.  She's smart, she's kind, she's tough, she's passionate and she's got good taste--likes Dorothea Lange, Rosalie Sorrels, The A-Team, old-school hip-hop and lots more.  So if, on a given Friday or Saturday night, I'm given the choice between covering a show and snuggling with her while watching Rio Bravo or Black Dynamite... Well, sorry, but you'll just have to tell me what I missed.

But with all of this said, let me be emphatic: I may not write here as often, but I will keep this blog going for as long as I can.  For one thing, it allows me to write more informally and (at my best) colorfully.  But more importantly, I know that this blog and its readers have made all of the above possible for me.  As I've written before, HCTD is easily the best thing that's happened in my life.  I love it too much to just abandon it.

This announcement has gotten much longer than I wanted, so I'll end it by thanking all of you once again for your readership and support.  It means more to me than I could ever say or write.

I've respected Evil Wine since I discovered it two years ago, and my respect has only deepened since then.  Their penchant for smart, raunchy, left-of-center fare has been an invaluable addition to the Boise scene; I've thought of them sometimes as the moon to Duck Club Presents' sun.  Also, I've been impressed by how Wes Malvini and Dustin Jones conduct themselves professionally.

I meant to write about last year's Evil Wine Carnival, but between hitting the live shows hard all summer and learning the ropes at a new job, I was good and burned out at the time (I had a small meltdown at the end of the Carnival that I still regret).  Anyway, I saw this year as a chance to make up for dropping the ball.  I was also happy for the chance to write a feature for the Weekly about Evil Wine (though I made the error of crediting Wes Malvini with starting Gramma's House.  My apologies for that).

I worked a closing shift at the Record Exchange this night, so I got down to the VaC late.  Although I missed quite a few of the musical acts and didn't get to see anybody play any of the games, between seventy and eighty people were still there when I arrived.

Highlights (of what I saw/heard, anyway):

Drinking Contest--Held during Glenn Mantang's set (agreeably trashy punk rock).  Winner Tina B. managed to down a bowl of beer before Mantang and backing band finished the song "Malt Licker."  As I recall, she was still vertical and going strong for much of the Carnival's remainder.  Girl's a viking.

Outside after his set, I overheard this quote from Glenn Mantang to his boss: "I will be there [with] eyes closed!  Cuz I don't ever call in hung over, Rich!  I call in sick!"

Scantily clad Dustin Jones and Wes Malvini--Because it just isn't an Evil Wine Carnival if these two keep their clothes on.

Carnival Games--I didn't play them, but just looking at them made me grin.  My favorite was Birth Your Savior, which involves reaching inside the Virgin Mary and trying to extract Jesus from among the other icons (Buddha, etc.).  Erin Nelson from the Rediscovered Bookshop showed me her slightly discolored hand as proof that she'd tried this one out.

This game was a very close second.

Headless Pez--When I interviewed him, Dustin Jones expressed particular excitement about this four-man Portland metal band.  Seeing them, I could understand why.  Between the dildo-pentagram backdrop, the abs drawn in Sharpie on the lead singer's belly, the bassist's ass-less chaps and song titles like "Handy Dandy Butt Candy" and "Dr. Bonerstein," this group could've sprung out of an episode of The Evil Wine Show.  Their impressive chops--squiggly guitar noise, relentless riffing, machine-gun kick drum, banshee-wail vocals--made them even funnier.

Some quotes from this set:

"This next song's about boners!  And Satan!"
"This song's called Power Death it's by Pantera f*ck you!"
"I totally forgot the words!  Hahaha!"
"Shut the f*ck up!  This part's pretty!  Shut up!"

Introducing their final number, a song about a gay skeleton: "He's scarier than a normal skeleton because he'll butt-f*ck you!"

Kitchen--Twin Falls trio.  Good stuff--strong beat, harshly catchy tunes, snarling distortion, caterwauling vocals.  Worth hearing again, I thought (though admittedly, I'd had a fair amount to drink by this point).

Matthew and Charlotte Vorhies--I didn't get to see this guy play with Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars, but he and his wife deserve a mention here because they were just too damn adorable.  I mean, c'mon, look at them.

The Voodoo Organist--Woulda been worth the price of admission by himself.  Tongue-in-cheek horror-movie melodies and lyrics (song titles: "Do the Zombie," "Vampire Empire"), charmingly sepulchral vocals, rockin' organ and theremin solos (flying hands and feet).

Andy D--"I got drunk a couple of hours ago," Andy D said at the start of his set.  "I'm gonna burn out the rest of my drunkenness onstage."  And so he did, belting and gyrating and dropping off the stage to dance with the crowd (just the guys, though--didn't want to piss off Victoria D/Anna Vision, maybe).  The crowd stayed with him, grooving out to such irresistible numbers as "New Addiction," "Angels on the Dancefloor" and "Hey Tina (Pick Up the Phone)" (possibly my new favorite).  If Evil Wine had done nothing other than bring this act to Boise, it would've justified its existence.

During this set, a dude from Headless Pez gave me a hug from behind, grabbed my crotch and handed me a sticker.  Made my night.

Tartufi--A late but welcome addition to the Carnival.  Aside from a couple of small slip-ups, this San Francisco trio sounded as roiling and tuneful as ever.  Listening to them again, I was struck by the warm, expansive spirit of this group's music.  It could've been the audience; Lynne Tartufi said at one point that they loved Boise "probably more than San Francisco, but don't tell them that."  Like I've said before, they oughtta just buy a house here.

You can find info on the various acts and Evil Wine on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Very special thanks to Wes Malvini, Dustin Jones and Evil Wine.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shook Twins, Stone Seed and Grand Falconer @ the Egyptian Theatre (9/20/13)

I'd never seen the Shook Twins before, but I'd been curious about them for a while, especially since Katelyn and Laurie Shook were born and raised in Idaho.  Indeed, I was so interested in them that I pitched a feature on them to the Boise Weekly (which I thought came out rather well overall).  Anyway, I also got a chance to check out this show thanks to my job.

I counted about 130 people when I got to the Egyptian Theatre.  I don't know how many were there when the Shook Twins played.  I don't know how many people went down to Tom Grainey's to wish a happy birthday to To Entertain U's Seth Brown either (happy belated birthday to him, by the way).

Grand Falconer opened the show.  I'd remembered this local band being good, but I didn't remember them being this good.  Their blend of folk and indie-rock sounded sharper and more balanced than it did before.  They complemented their ringing guitar, warm cello and clean three-part harmonies with stomping, syncopated rhythms.  Their playful, self-deprecating banter was most welcome as well.  Guitarist Michael Johnson joked about their being notoriously awkward onstage, but they didn't seem that way to me (or they were comfortable in their awkwardness, at least).  Over half the crowd was on its feet by the set's end, and those who weren't nodded to the beat in their seats.  I'll look forward to this group's new EP, which they said they've been working on these past eight months (thought it had been a while since I'd seen their name around).

Stone Seed played next.  When the Weekly feature on the Shooks got shared around on Facebook, this band tagged me in a comment asking what they needed to do to get mentioned in the article.  A little pissy, perhaps, but they did kinda have a right--I try to make it a point to mention the openers in my articles, but unfortunately, it slipped my mind with this one.  My bad.  Anyway, this roots group's high energy and smooth grooves did a good job of filling the space of the Egyptian.  Idyltime's Beth Mason looked a little stiff on standup bass (she'd only played with the band for a couple of weeks at this point), but Ty Clayton's guitar and Benett Barr's djembe held down the rhythm just fine.  Lindsey Terrell's sultry harmonies meshed nicely with Clayton's gritty baritone drawl, and her elegant violin solos gave the music some extra spark.  People danced off to the sides, in the aisles and in their seats.

The Shook Twins closed out the night.  I imagine that if, at any point in the proceedings, Katelyn and Laurie Shook came across as smug or calculating, I might have found their plaintive folk tunes and pristine harmonies unbearable (not to mention touches like the Lite Brite that read "SHOOK TWINS" that sat at the foot of the stage).  But since they came across as thoughtful, warm, funny and endearing as Katelyn Shook did when I interviewed her, said tunes and harmonies won me over completely.  As did their sprightly beats, skillful beatboxing and subtle looping.  Indeed, between their offhandedly sophisticated musicianship, their smart, slightly off-kilter lyrics and their expansive, generous spirit (an a capella Tears for Fears cover--why not?), I'm halfway tempted to call them the only real 21st century folk band.  But that sounds way too pretentious for this music, so I'll just say that this was easily one of the best shows I've seen this year.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to the Record Exchange, To Entertain U and Idaho Live.